I love feet. Most people don’t. In fact, many people seem to hate them. There is even a Facebook page called I Hate Feet, which at the time of writing had 113,213 “likes”. There is no equivalent I Love Feet Facebook page. Dislike. If there were, maybe more people would think about getting a pedicure before wearing their flip-flops in public. Maybe the time for FEET 2012 has finally come, and that time is now… Ok, maybe not. But short of a sparking a foot love revolution, I hope at least to inspire people to get regular pedicures. Which brings me to my surprising discovery of the niche foot care treatments in The Netherlands that I’ve never come across anywhere else.
As I’ve travelled over the years, I’ve discovered that a pedicure can mean different things in different places. In Montreal, it meant sitting in a vibrating chair over a calming whirlpool foot bath in an Asian salon while my feet got scrubbed down and my toenails filed and painted the colour du jour. In Arusha, there was no such pampering. Foot care meant not obsessively scratching the mosquito bites covering my ankles, and slinging my feet over my tub at home. I’d hunch over to give them a good rinse and then paint my toenails in whatever colour I had around. No frills, but at least I didn’t have to tip.
Then I moved to The Hague, and pedicures took on a whole new meaning. In my search for a new foot curator, I discovered that The Netherlands has a professional association called ProVoet which trains and certifies people to give the kind of pedicure that falls somewhere between sticking your feet in a fish tank and being treated by an orthopedic surgeon.
It’s a no-nonsense, quasi-clinical kind of pedicure, where instruments akin to dental tools are used and the focus is not only on the aesthetic, but above all the health, of the foot. Don’t expect a warm foot soak in milky water infused with cinnamon and sprinkled with orchid petals before getting your feet did. Nobody needs that anyway. They treat your feet the way a dental hygienist treats your teeth. And you can be sure that their tools and instruments are sterilized after being used with a single client, unlike nail salons where the use of whirlpool foot baths or fish tanks is of questionable cleanliness, and the use of sterilizing equipment is optional.
A basic ProVoet pedicure involves treating the nails, removing any possible corns or calluses, and inspecting for any potentially more serious skin or structural problems. For those with healthy feet, the treatment is largely aesthetic, but also preventative. And it costs only around €30, so you really can’t go wrong. In North America, that level of attention to one’s feet could only be given by a podiatrist, which would cost much more. For those with not so healthy feet, a ProVoet pedicurist is also trained to detect any problems that might require more specialized attention, and will know whether to refer you to a podiatrist if need be.
Luckily for me, my feet are healthy, and I intend to keep them that way. Because I wear high heels regularly, I get a basic pedicure every 4 to 6 weeks. My pedicurix is Claudia Johnson, and under her expert care and supervision, I can wear my dominatrix-high heels to my heart’s content. If I am ever overdoing it with the stilettos, she can tell, and advises me to give my feet a break by wearing flats for a while. She keeps a blueprint of my feet, which she updates regularly. And she gives me tips on how to care for my feet in between visits.
Like many other ProVoet specialists, Claudia works from home and holds other specialties. Among other things, Claudia is also a reflexologist (another wonderful thing to do for your feet!), detox expert, reiki master, and hot stone massage therapist. It’s amazing the kind of things I learn about cleansing and meditation while she tends to my feet.
For Claudia’s website, click here. For a more comprehensive listing of pedicurists in The Hague, click here. But make sure to check that the pedicurist listed is certified with ProVoet. The profession is not a “protected” one, so people can give pedicures without necessarily being certified by ProVoet. While this doesn’t disqualify anyone from giving a proper pedicure, I personally prefer to entrust my feet to someone who trained for a year and is professionally certified. Of the many surprising things I appreciate very much about living in The Hague, this is, hands (and feet) down, one of them.
Photos by Sheila